Monday 14 December 2009

What I Read In November

Yes, yes, I know it's already half way through December, but here (better late than never) is my summary of what I read in November. A great month in which I am chilled to the bone, learn a lot about sex, and spend time with some very nasty but thoroughly entertaining people .


Published: February 2010
Setting: A road trip across America
Protagonist: The driver
Series?: Standalone
First Lines: 'Tell me about the box they kept you in, he said'
Brrrrrrrrrr. A couple eat and eat and eat to forget. A man with a colander on his head stands out in the rain, arms outstretched. A woman comes to terms with the break-up of an affair. An impotent porn star flirts with a bank teller. This is a very original and intriguing book - it's like a set of interlinked short stories that take us into the past, the present and the future of the varied characters whose lives intersect with that of a man driving across America. Some stories are very loosely tied to the driver, others are inextricably linked - most are not good. Some are...really not good. Chilling, well-written and memorable. I found myself whimpering as I read it and I slept with the light on for about two weeks afterwards. So noir it's like stepping into a bottomless pit of tar while wearing a blindfold.

BOULEVARD - Stephen Jay Schwartz
Published: September 2009
Setting: Los Angeles
Protagonist: Detective Hayden Glass
Series?: Standalone or first of a series - not sure
First Lines: 'Detective Hayden Glass of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division drove his old Hollywood beat, crossing Fairfax, heading east on Sunset Boulevard.'
Hayden Glass is a Los Angeles homicide detective. He's also a sex addict. His police work brings him into contact with prostitutes and pimps, and he spends his work day cruising the same areas that attract him as part of his addiction. Needless to say, this is not an easy addiction to keep secret, and when several cases appear to be linked by Hayden himself, it seems as though his secret won't be a secret for much longer. An extremely flawed hero - sometimes I admired him, sometimes I despised him, most of the time I just didn't like him very much. Despite that, I still wanted to find out about him, and how this was all going to end. In fact, I was on a plane coming back from a business meeting in London and was the last person off the plane because I was on the last few pages and wanted to keep reading. Sometimes a bit over the top, it's intense, cinematic, memorable, and full of sex. I'm not letting my mum anywhere near this one.

Published: 2007
Setting: A small Greek island
Protagonist: Hermes Diaktoros
Series?: First
First Lines: 'It was the spring of the year; the air was light and bright, the alpines were all in bloom. It was a fine day to be out.''
A young woman's body is found - apparently after she has jumped off a cliff. The police are ready to close the case when a mysterious stranger called Hermes arrives from Athens. He asks questions of all the village's residents, while answering nothing himself. Hermes is an enigma and his methods are unorthodox. Suspicion, lust, secrecy, adultery, passion and savagery abound in a Greece that is totally unlike the Greece of the holiday brochures.

BLOODY WOMEN - Helen FitzGerald
Published: October 2009
Setting: Edinburgh and Italy
Protagonist: Catriona Marsden
Series?: Standalone
First Lines: '"I just need you to say if this is him," the man in the white coat said, lifting the sheet that covered the lump beneath..'
When Catriona Marsden is called in to identify an ex-boyfriend's severed penis, her reaction is to giggle. Needless to say, that does not look good, and she's promptly arrested for the murder of not one, but three ex-boyfriends. Cat is getting married and, like most brides, she has the pre-wedding jitters. However, unlike most brides, she decides that the way to put those jitters to bed is to meet up with each of her ex-boyfriends, and sleep with them. BLOODY WOMEN is delicious, ingenious, inventive and mordantly funny and Helen FitzGerald has a real skill for making the totally absurd and goofy, thoroughly logical and reasonable. She serves up plot twists and severed penises (penii?) alike with the same relish and glee as Bette Davis serving Joan Crawford a rat on a silver salver in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Warped, funny, and very well told.

- Short story collection
Published: 2009
Setting: Scotland
Protagonist: Various
Series?: Standalone collection
This is an anthology of crime stories focusing on the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators or the detectives. All the writers donated their royalties to Victim Support Scotland. An excellent collection – several of the stories are very touching, because they are written from the point of view of the victim and every writer has given a lot of thought to the impact of crime. A couple of the writers have had the same idea but treated it in a different way, others have done something totally unique. Stories from Karen Campbell, Ray Banks, Allan Guthrie, Louise Welsh, Lin Anderson, Stuart MacBride, Gillian Galbraith, Alex Gray, Christopher Brookmyre, G J Moffat.


  1. I hope you did not give Bloody Women to your Dad for him to read!

  2. Oh dearie me no, Norm! What a thought :o)